A nine-year-old pupil with cerebral palsy met three of his wheelchair basketball idols on Monday 18 July, at a session specially organised so he could play a match with his school friends.
Finn O’Neill, who attends St Mark’s CofE Primary School in Eccles, was also given an entry level multi sports wheelchair by British Wheelchair Basketball’s education partner Youth Sport Direct. The chair will allow him to participate in inclusive school sport, enjoy playing alongside his friends and reach his sporting potential.
The day saw British wheelchair basketball players seven-time Paralympian Simon Munn, three-time Paralympian Peter Finbow, and GB Women’s U25 European and World Gold Medallist Siobhan Fitzpatrick visit the school and help Finn and his friends try out wheelchair basketball.
The session was organised after Finn approached his local MP for Chatham and Aylesford and
Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, about his love for wheelchair basketball and his desire to play the sport with his classmates.
When British Wheelchair Basketball heard about this they arranged the special session of Inclusive Zone Basketball with Finn, which saw four wheelchair basketball players (two per team) compete alongside running basketball players.
Charlie Bethel, Chief Executive of British Wheelchair Basketball, said:
“It is essential that young people of all abilities are able to access team sports at a young age.
“Inclusive Zone Basketball is a phenomenal sport for enabling schools to deliver PE sessions that actively engage all pupils – irrespective of ability. We are delighted to be able to help Finn and his school discover this sport, and hope today will inspire him to realise his full potential.”
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said:
“It has been brilliant to watch Finn and his classmates take part in the session this morning –
shooting hoops and having fun.
“Today shows how inclusive sport can be and the positive impact it has on children’s lives. Finn is a shining example for all of us to follow, as we seek to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in sport for all the benefits it brings. I’d like to thank British Wheelchair Basketball for making this possible.”
Jason Brightman of Youth Sport Direct also added:
“We’re delighted to donate a multi sport wheelchair to Finn. This chair will provide him with the opportunity to integrate into sport at school and allow him to pursue extracurricular activities. Offering sport for all young people is essential in building confidence and developing life skills. We’re thrilled to have played our part in Finn enjoying inclusive sport with his friends and peers and look forward to hearing about his progress.”